Silverfish vs. Earwig: Learning the Difference

Jul 29, 2022 | Earwigs, Silverfish

Silverfish vs. Earwig: Learning The Difference

Many people mistake silverfish for earwigs when describing these two insects. At first glance, they appear to be the same species because of their shining, silvery coats.

Earwig vs silverfish, on the other hand, are distinct from one another due to their characteristics. Since both earwigs and silverfish prefer moist conditions, they are sometimes mistaken for each other. Even though they appear to be distinct creatures, they may have identical nighttime habits.

To dispel misunderstandings, we’ll examine the fundamental distinction between the two insects in further detail in this post.

Key takeaways

  • Silverfish and earwigs have similar appearances and prefer moist environments.
  • Silverfish have a flat, oval-shaped body with scales and eat starch, cardboard, and paper.
  • Earwigs are brownish-black with curved forceps for males and straight forceps for females and feed on flora.
  • Silverfish can live up to 2-8 years, while earwigs only have a lifespan of around a year.
  • Silverfish can cause damage to books, food, and clothing, while earwigs can destroy gardens.

What are silverfish?

Insects with scales & antennae are known as silverfish. A soft body coated in fine scales like fish makes them look like aquatic creatures. Such bugs that look like earwigs without pincers have a flat, oval-shaped body. There are two antennae and three tail protrusions in adults.

Silverfish prefer to be in the shadows and avoid the sun’s rays at all costs during the day. If you move an item with silverfish lurking in or under, it will bolt and find a new location.

After a silverfish reaches adulthood, it continues to produce eggs regularly. Eggs are laid about your house and hatch in three weeks. Within four to six weeks, a young insect reaches adulthood.

Their nymphs are smaller and whiter than their adult counterparts. Depending on the species, they can live for two to eight years and go for months or even years without eating. However, they are extremely sensitive to temperature and require a high humidity level to thrive.

What are earwigs?

In general, earwigs are harmless, yet they have a poor rap because of their reputation. Regardless of what you may have heard, earwigs do not normally make their way into your ears, although this has happened occasionally.

According to folklore, this insect crawls inside your ears at night and is known as an “ear wiggler” or “ear creature” because of its Old English name, ear wicga, which means “ear wiggler” or “ear creature.”

It is brownish-black in color and roughly three-quarters of an inch in length. Curved forceps for the male and straight forceps for women. When the earwigs’ little rear wings are open, they resemble tiny fans. Despite the insect’s wings, it has no interest in flying.

Of the 22 earwig species found in the United States, just four or five are known to be household pests that seek dark, cozy places to hide.

Differences between silverfish and earwig

Small insects like the earwig and the silverfish can enter your home if you’re not careful, and infestations can damage your goods if they get widespread in your home or business. These animals are all unique in terms of what they eat, their lifetime, and their look.


One of the silverfish’s most recognizable characteristics is its color. Fisherman-like creatures move across the floor in silvery hues of light gray to light blue.

Long, thin, and with large pinchers on the underside of their abdomen are the characteristics of the earwig.


Everything with starch, which silverfish love to consume, is fair game for them. They eat various things, including flour, cereal, veggies, dry meat, and even dead insects. Now, you may assume that this is a rather common thing, but they also devour cardboard and paper. Keeping them in an archive on this diet could be problematic.

As long as you let them, silverfish will gobble up your possessions and defecate wherever they go. That final point is critical since it indicates that they can infect your meals.

Certain earwig species are hunters; unlike silverfish, they do not feed on dead vegetation and insects. Unlike silverfish, which live in our dwellings, earwigs prefer to stay under moist dead foliage.


Cold, wet, and dark are ideal habitats for silverfish and other predatory birds. The only significant difference between the two is their predatory behavior. Aside from the fact that silverfish aren’t recognized as dangerous, they’re also known for their ability to devour small insects.

At night they’re most likely to be spotted lurking beneath rug walls in the basements of homes with damp conditions. Nighttime is the most active time for both parasites, and Moisture-rich locations are where you’re more likely to find both species.


Earwigs have a relatively short lifespan, averaging around a year. Earwigs breed in the fall and winter, and their eggs hatch in the spring. It takes about four months for a silverfish egg to mature into a full-fledged adult. Adult silverfish, on the other hand, can live for up to 2-8 years.


Silverfish can wreak havoc on everything from books and food to clothing. Even though they can be a pain, silverfish are not harmful to humans and do not spread diseases.

Since earwigs lack venom, they do not threaten humans because they can grab a finger with their forceps. Their preference for flora leads to destruction in gardens.


There is no need to panic if you find a silverfish in one or two places around the house. They are nocturnal creatures that only appear in daylight on rare occasions, and silverfish thrive in moist and food-rich conditions.

The existence of one or two earwigs does not necessarily imply the presence of an earwig infestation. Often, earwigs are driven inside homes by the climate or a food shortage elsewhere.

How to get rid of earwigs and silverfish?

What should you do to get rid of silverfish or earwigs? If you’re wondering about this, you’re not alone. Bugs can be located in the most unexpected places, making them nearly tough to get rid of.


  • Leaking pipes should be fixed immediately.
  • Make sure your home isn’t overflowing with water.
  • Use a dehumidifier in your basement to keep it free of mold and mildew.
  • Remove any overgrown plants from the outside of your house.
  • Your home’s foundation should be kept as dry as possible.
  • Any holes in your home’s external walls and foundation should be filled up.
  • Do not leave any debris lying around your property, including fallen trees and leaf heaps.

How do you prevent earwigs and silverfish infestation?

When it comes to silverfish and earwigs, there are no reasons to be alarmed. They’re not poisonous and aren’t known to bite or sting people. Keep silverfish and earwigs away from your home by following these tips:


  • Brush, wood, and leaf piles should be cleared away.
  • Store all dry goods in airtight containers in your cupboards.
  • Dispose of anything in your home that has glue on it.
  • Maintain a dry environment when storing clothing.
  • Silverfish can’t lay eggs if they can’t get in, so seal up any holes or fractures you see.

Need assistance with earwig or silverfish removal?

While insect repellants may help you ward these away temporarily, you need a long-term solution for your home. For one, keeping the locations clean and dry, especially where they are most likely to congregate, helps. In most circumstances, the only method to get rid of bugs that look like silverfish or bugs similar to earwigs in your home is to hire an exterminator.

Request an appointment to get rid of an earwig or silverfish infestation. We offer free estimates and can make your home pest free sooner than you know it!

Adam Judnich

Adam Judnich

Owner @ Arrest A Pest

Serving the entire Coachella Valley

Arrest A Pest is your top-rated pest and bug control solution in the Coachella Valley! As a family-owned and operated business, our technicians grew up in the Coachella Valley and have a deep understanding of the pests in our area.

We understand that every pest infestation is an emergency, and we offer quick, safe, and thorough pest solutions and preventions for your home or business. No matter what pests are invading your space, our technicians are armed with state-of-the-art technology designed to rid your home or business of pests and help you stay pest-free long into the future.

Contact us today to schedule your FREE evaluation and let our team send the pests packing!

Coachella Valley California Map

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This